Articles | Volume 18, issue 11
Atmos. Chem. Phys., 18, 8017–8039, 2018

Special issue: Global and regional assessment of intercontinental transport...

Atmos. Chem. Phys., 18, 8017–8039, 2018

Research article 07 Jun 2018

Research article | 07 Jun 2018

Source influence on emission pathways and ambient PM2.5 pollution over India (2015–2050)

Chandra Venkataraman1,2, Michael Brauer3, Kushal Tibrewal2, Pankaj Sadavarte2,4, Qiao Ma5, Aaron Cohen6, Sreelekha Chaliyakunnel7, Joseph Frostad8, Zbigniew Klimont9, Randall V. Martin10, Dylan B. Millet7, Sajeev Philip10,11, Katherine Walker6, and Shuxiao Wang5,12 Chandra Venkataraman et al.
  • 1Department of Chemical Engineering, Indian Institute of Technology Bombay, Powai, Mumbai, India
  • 2Interdisciplinary program in Climate Studies, Indian Institute of Technology Bombay, Powai, Mumbai, India
  • 3School of Population and Public Health, The University of British Columbia, Vancouver, British Columbia V6T1Z3, Canada
  • 4Institute for Advanced Sustainability Studies (IASS), Berliner Str. 130, 14467 Potsdam, Germany
  • 5State Key Joint Laboratory of Environment Simulation and Pollution Control, School of Environment, Tsinghua University, Beijing 100084, China
  • 6Health Effects Institute, Boston, MA 02110, USA
  • 7Department of Soil, Water, and Climate, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis–Saint Paul, MN 55108, USA
  • 8Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, University of Washington, Seattle, WA 98195, USA
  • 9International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis, Laxenburg, Austria
  • 10Department of Physics and Atmospheric Science, Dalhousie University, Halifax, Nova Scotia B3H 4R2, Canada
  • 11NASA Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, California, USA
  • 12State Environmental Protection Key Laboratory of Sources and Control of Air Pollution Complex, Beijing 100084, China

Abstract. India is currently experiencing degraded air quality, and future economic development will lead to challenges for air quality management. Scenarios of sectoral emissions of fine particulate matter and its precursors were developed and evaluated for 2015–2050, under specific pathways of diffusion of cleaner and more energy-efficient technologies. The impacts of individual source sectors on PM2.5 concentrations were assessed through systematic simulations of spatially and temporally resolved particulate matter concentrations, using the GEOS-Chem model, followed by population-weighted aggregation to national and state levels. We find that PM2.5 pollution is a pan-India problem, with a regional character, and is not limited to urban areas or megacities. Under present-day emissions, levels in most states exceeded the national PM2.5 annual standard (40 µg m−3). Sources related to human activities were responsible for the largest proportion of the present-day population exposure to PM2.5 in India. About 60 % of India's mean population-weighted PM2.5 concentrations come from anthropogenic source sectors, while the remainder are from other sources, windblown dust and extra-regional sources. Leading contributors are residential biomass combustion, power plant and industrial coal combustion and anthropogenic dust (including coal fly ash, fugitive road dust and waste burning). Transportation, brick production and distributed diesel were other contributors to PM2.5. Future evolution of emissions under regulations set at current levels and promulgated levels caused further deterioration of air quality in 2030 and 2050. Under an ambitious prospective policy scenario, promoting very large shifts away from traditional biomass technologies and coal-based electricity generation, significant reductions in PM2.5 levels are achievable in 2030 and 2050. Effective mitigation of future air pollution in India requires adoption of aggressive prospective regulation, currently not formulated, for a three-pronged switch away from (i) biomass-fuelled traditional technologies, (ii) industrial coal-burning and (iii) open burning of agricultural residue. Future air pollution is dominated by industrial process emissions, reflecting larger expansion in industrial, rather than residential energy demand. However, even under the most active reductions envisioned, the 2050 mean exposure, excluding any impact from windblown mineral dust, is estimated to be nearly 3 times higher than the WHO Air Quality Guideline.

Final-revised paper